In our own backyard.... Rotten luck - or food for thought?

If the old saying, "You are what you eat" holds true - I think I'm about to starve to death. Granted, it's not all that bad an idea to consider cutting back a little on the old feed bag now that the new year is under way. It never hurts to be car...

If the old saying, "You are what you eat" holds true - I think I'm about to starve to death.

Granted, it's not all that bad an idea to consider cutting back a little on the old feed bag now that the new year is under way. It never hurts to be carrying a few less pounds when spring vacation rolls around and I have to wedge myself into last year's swimsuit. But I would hope the decision to lose weight would be on my terms - and not due to plain, old hard luck.

Last weekend, my husband and I planned to treat ourselves to dinner out, followed by a movie. After considering our options, we decided on a restaurant we've always liked but haven't been to in a while. We got there a good hour and a half before the movie was slated to begin and settled back leisurely into a dimly lit booth and eagerly perused the menu.

Ken decided on the barbecued chicken dinner, and I decided the pizza sounded good, so we put in our orders with the waitress and chatted while we eagerly awaited our meals. Ken's dinner salad came and went - and my stomach began to growl. We debated whether to see "Dream Girls" or "The Last King of Scotland." We speculated about whether there'd be enough snow to go cross country skiing on Sunday. We muttered over the lousy winter weather and daydreamed about possible vacations.

We began to grow restless because our stomachs were running on empty, the movie time was growing closer, and still, our meals did not arrive. I had nearly drained my entire glass of ice water, trying to subdue the hunger pangs, and we were straining our heads in the direction of the kitchen when a young man suddenly appeared at our table and leaned in toward us with a concerned look on his face.


"I'm afraid I have very bad news for you...." he began. And even though I had never seen this young man before in my life, and intellectually I knew he couldn't possibly know anything remotely about us, I found myself in an instant state of panic, wondering if a family member had been involved in an accident or our house had burned down.

Wide-eyed, I looked at him expectantly. There was a suspense-filled pause - and then the other shoe dropped.

"The kitchen forgot to put your pizza in."

At that point, I would almost have settled for the house fire.....

"What??" I shrieked (or at least, it felt like I was shrieking).

I must have gone dead pale, because he hastened to continue.

"I don't know how it happened, but I can assure you it's in the oven now and should be ready in 10 minutes. I can bring the chicken dinner now or hold it until the pizza is ready, and I'd be glad to treat you to a free round of drinks or dessert or take something off your bill."

Ken jumped in and asked to have "something" taken off the bill.


Little did I know then, but I should have settled for the round of drinks.

I bravely informed the manager to go ahead and bring Ken's chicken and I would wait out the pizza. The waitress brought me another glass of ice water, and I threw my head back and drank deeply, trying to calm my rampant appetite.

By then, all pretense at conversation was over. Ken sheepishly, but hungrily, wolfed down his dinner, offering to share some with me, but I had my heels dug in and refused to eat until the pizza got there. Ten minutes passed, 12, 15.

The manager returned, and this time he seemed almost to cower.

"I don't know what went wrong, but the pizza is still not done. I'm SO sorry. It should only be a few more minutes. I've decided that you don't have to pay for your meals at all. The whole thing is on the house...." and he bolted for the kitchen.

I drained the rest of my glass of ice water. The movie was slated to get under way in less than a half hour.

At long last, the waitress literally flew around the corner of our booth, slid the pizza in front of me apologetically, and departed. It was blazing hot (without a doubt, right out of the oven!). I extracted a wedge, blew on it, blew on it again, and gingerly nibbled on it, trying not to burn the roof of my mouth, because by then my ice water was gone. I managed to get two slices down before we figured we'd better leave for the movie theater, so I took the rest home in a carryout box.

By then, my stomach was in knots and I wasn't all that hungry anyway.


By the next morning, however, I was famished, and I managed to wolf down a carrot muffin with cream cheese frosting before church. It was 11 a.m. by the time the service got over, and we stayed afterward to attend the annual meeting, at which they served a couple of large pots full of homemade soup, along with a variety of potluck dishes.

I opted for a large bowl of chicken soup, sat down at a table at the start of the meeting, and dug in. The soup was cold. Apparently, it had been heating in a Crock Pot that felt hot on the outside - but the soup hadn't had time to fully heat up within it.

I nursed along a plate of orange Jello - and yearned for suppertime.

When we arrived home at last, I put a turkey in the oven to roast before we went out cross country skiing, knowing it would be ready not long after we returned.

And sure enough, when we walked in the front door, the savory aroma of roasting turkey filled the house. The bird looked crispy and brown, so I checked it with my instant-read thermometer and saw that it was almost up to the required temperature. I took the bird out of the oven, tented it with foil, and proceeded to make the dressing and vegetables.

Half an hour or so later, I had the table all set and everything ready to go, so Ken set about carving the turkey. And with the first slice of the electric carving life, I blanched.

The meat inside was bright pink.

Pine Journal Publisher/ reporter Wendy Johnson can be contacted at: .

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